WICKER PARK — Whether you love or hate Valentine's Day, the good news is that it's just one day — or weekend if you want to prolong the hype — so we rounded up some fun ideas for Wicker Park, Bucktown and West Town residents of all romantic persuasions.
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For the person who didn’t realize it was Valentine’s Day: Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day. But it’s also Friday night. You want cheap beer, good music and a chat with friends. Head to Rainbo Club, 1150 N. Damen Ave., for “Conversation Hearts: You Slayer Me.” It’ll be like any other Friday at Rainbo — but they have a new batch of artwork on the walls from rad Chicago artists including John Ausikaitis, Theo Katsaounis, Jillian Lamberson, Tim Kinsella, Paul Koob, Brittany LaFlamme, Raychael Stine, Stephanie Tisza and many more. The opening reception is from 6-10 p.m., but the art will be up for awhile. So show up late if you want to see a bunch of inebriated artists.
For the person who did realize it is Valentine's Day but still wants to stay in: Grab a box of hand-dipped chocolate cherries from Margie's Candies, 1960 N. Western Ave., head a couple blocks south for a bottle of wine from Red & White Wines, 1861 N. Milwaukee Ave. and bop across the street to Odd Obsession Movies, 1822 N. Milwaukee Ave. to select a movie rental. We suggest "Paradise: Love," a film about a 50-year-old Austrian woman who travels to the beaches of Kenya as a sex tourist. It has subtitles but if you're willing to do some reading (unless you speak German) it is totally worth it. Or choose from the shop's 20,000-plus other titles.
For friends or couples looking for sweets, flowers and music: Hop off the CTA Blue Line "L" at Damen, go to the recently-opened Stan's Donuts, 1560 N. Damen, for a heart-shaped chocolate doughnut, walk one block east to Asrai Garden, 1935 W. North Ave. for a bouquet of Hellebore flowers, which signify the coming of spring. Then, visit the sibling rockers with flaming red hair, White Mystery, who will perform a free 6 p.m. show at Reckless Records, 1532 N. Milwaukee Ave. Get in the mood before or after the show by listening to Alex White's Punk Love Mixtape, too! If you're looking for more music to cap off the night, pop by the Chop Shop's 1st Ward events, 2033 W. North Ave., for Slo Mo's "No Ordinary Love" Sade inspired edition of the popular DJ-driven dance party. $10.
For sweet tooths and "Aural Intercourse" lovers: Start your Saturday night at Sweet Cakes, 1223 N. Milwaukee Ave., with a three-course dessert tasting at 7:30 p.m. Enjoy Heart-beet cake, bourbon butterscotch gingerbread, raspberry sorbet and chocolate fondue with fruit, nuts and tiny doughnuts. Standard menu is $32, vegan and/or gluten free $38. After that sugar buzz, head to The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave. for its 8th Annual Hideout Make-Out Party, featuring a 17-piece live band that will perform classic love songs. $12.
For language and Nutella lovers: Celebrate one of Italy's most irresistible treats by eating Nutella pastries from Bang Bang! Pie Shop, Katherine Anne's, Black Dog Gelato and Tipsy Cake at Go Girls Nutella Day Celebration from 1-4 p.m. Sunday at Ipsento, 2035 N. Western Ave. Then, walk over to Multilingual Connections at 2518 W. Armitage Ave. to take a short class in Italian. Cost is free but bring some extra cash to sample the treats.
For procrastinating couples who missed the Valentine's Day hype on Friday: It doesn't get any more traditional than a good ole' fashioned steak with a potato and a slice of chocolate mousse cake. And chances are, if you waited this long, you missed the boat on making your reservations in time. The good news is, a new Noble Square steakhouse that was awarded "Best Ambience" in the 2013 OpenTable awards still has a few seats open on Sunday in its candlelit dining room. Unite Urban Grill, at 1450 W. Chicago Ave. Make reservations online or call 312-455-8900.